Written By: Fiona Stockard

Hardcore Sobriety


I was lucky enough to get sober with a bunch of Big Book thumpers. Actually, scratch that, I don’t know if I’d have gotten sober without them. Really, I was graced enough to be given the gift of sobriety from a bunch of Big Book thumpers.

If you’ve been sober for any length of time, you probably know what a book thumper is. If you haven’t, let me tell you!

Big Book thumpers are individuals in recovery who stress the importance of working the twelve-steps and spreading a message of hope, straight from Alcoholics Anonymous, more commonly known as the Big Book.

These are the women at meetings who aren’t afraid to call bulls**t when they see it. They’re the one’s who’ll crosstalk, giving newcomers the advice they so desperately need to hear. They’re the ones you see smiling and laughing until the conversation turns to the steps, then they get deadly serious.

In short, they’re the ones saving lives.

Going to Rehab & My Introduction to Book Thumpers

I didn’t get sober the first time I tried to. Like many alcoholics, it took me a few tries. That isn’t to say it’s impossible to be a one-chip wonder, plenty of people are. Still, most alcoholics I know needed to be beaten up pretty good before they became willing.

I was living in a halfway house in Delray Beach. I was going to aftercare and twelve-step meetings everyday. I also couldn’t stop drinking and drugging. Eventually, I ended up back in rehab. This was the definition of a blessing in disguise!

While in treatment, a group of women heavily involved in H&I (Hospitals and Institutions) brought meetings in. These were hardcore book thumpers! I didn’t take their numbers, or even talk to them really, but a seed of hope was planted.

Getting Sober Thanks to Book Thumpers

Seeing these women and their passion for spreading the message of recovery, gave me hope. Plus, they were saying things I’d never heard before. They didn’t rehash the same old “don’t drink and go to meetings” slogans. Good things they didn’t! Not drinking and going to meetings kept me sick! If I could simply not drink, I wouldn’t need twelve-step recovery in the first place!

Instead, they were saying things like “Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles” (Big Book, p. 62).

Or, “Instead, the problem [alcoholism] has been removed. It does not exist for us” (Big Book, p. 85).

They were calling themselves recovered alcoholics. What an idea! You mean I had a chance to recover? To get better? Not to sit around, miserable as f**k, until I inevitability drank again?

The 12-Steps & Staying Sober in the Real World

And then came the fateful day when I got out of treatment. I wasn’t in the safe and protected rehab bubble anymore. I was in the real world. Was I going to stay sober?

Well, a close friend took me to a meeting she described as “different.” Turns out, it was a step-study meeting, packed with book thumpers! They weren’t the same women who’d brought the H&I meeting into my rehab, but they preached the same message.

I got involved almost immediately. I asked a woman to sponsor me. A few days later, we sat in Moe’s (great burritos, btw!) and worked the first three steps. It took a total of about fifteen minutes. Then she got me writing. The dreaded fourth step!

It turns out the big bad fourth step wasn’t so bad after all. Neither were steps eight and nine. None of the twelve-steps were scary or hard! Maybe I had that gift of desperation people talk about. I don’t know. I just know that I started to feel better and I was going to do whatever I could to keep that feeling going.

Being a Book Thumper Myself

Six years later, I sponsor women the same way. I’m a book thumper! I get girls into the steps quickly. They get better quickly. Of course, very little of their success or failure has anything to do with me. It all has to do with their level of willingness.

When I was first getting sober, my book thumper sponsor asked me, “are you willing to go to any length for your sobriety?” I had no idea what she was talking about, so of course I said yes. I thought she’d have me go to a lot of meetings or something like that.

Today, I know what she really meant. Going to any length means exactly what it sounds like. It means doing what my sponsor asked. If your sponsor is a book thumper, she’s going to ask you to get into the Big Book. Do it. Trust me, that simple book is the key to a whole new life!

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